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Archive for category Asif Haroon Raja (Retd):Pakistan Army

Radicalization trends in South Asia Brig (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Radicalization trends in South Asia

Asif Haroon Raja

Geostrategic Importance of South Asia

South Asia is house to around 1.5 billion people who represent one-quarter of the world’s population; with a high growth rate of population. and scarcity of resources collectively creates opportunities for socio-political, and economic instability resulting into conflicts.

This vast region is sandwiched between the great mountain chains and the Indian Ocean. In the north and northeast, it is surrounded by mighty Himalayan mountain ranges, while in the north-west by the Karakorum, the Hindu Kush and Makran ranges. In the east, it is enclosed by Purvanchal Hills and Bay of Bengal, while in the south it penetrates into the Indian Ocean and in the south-west by the Arabian Sea.

Politically the entire South-Asian region has witnessed convulsive politics in the last seven decades. The causes are mainly religious, linguistic, castes, ethnic and economic disparities and uneven resource distribution. Another cause of political turbulence is mutual suspicion and mistrust and a lack of confidence in each other’s motives and intentions.

The disputes among South Asian countries have remained an area of unresolved and dangerous conflict involving external powers, arms proliferation and ethnic and religious hatred that go back to the evolution of India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, the countries that form South Asia.

 

Due to its strategic location and natural wealth, the region has acquired a very important position from a geostrategic point of view. While India taking advantage of her size, diplomatic clout, military power and economic strength, has all along striven to dominate South Asia, external powers such as Russia, USA and China in their quest for geostrategic and geo-economic ambitions, seek to engage South Asian countries as well as with neighboring regions rich in energy resources.

 

The politics of violence and extremism in South Asia is mainly the result of faulty national policies and interference of external powers. The region’s vast potential is hostage to unresolved inter-state conflicts, mostly left behind by Britain and now being exploited by India which considers itself to be the successor of former colonial power which ruled and plundered the resources of this region for 200 years. The USA which filled the power vacuum after 1947 has also been meddling into the affairs of South Asia in its quest for attainment of global ambitions.

Indian Factor

One reason behind South Asia’s backwardness and rise in extremist tendencies is the imperialist designs of India which has all along aspired to create mythical Akhand Bharat. While dealing with neighbours much smaller in size, resources and military strength, India is always in a mood to bully, to terrorise and to dictate terms.

The favourite means employed by India to make the defiant neighbour bend to its dictates are diplomatic pressure, economic blackmail, military coercion and application of the military instrument. It also resorts to sabotage and subversion abets insurgency and uses Kautylian tactics such as propaganda war, disinformation, deception and false flag operations.  

India’s Contribution to ISIS

India has trained RAW in this game and over a period of time, it claims to have excelled in the art of disinformation campaign, espionage and subversion. There is no country in its neighbourhood which has not been jolted by India through immoral methods, be it Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan and Tibet.  Pakistan has suffered the most at its hand and continues to endure.

SAARC which could have played a big role in the economic development of South Asia is in limbo due to Indian unilateralism.

Editor’s Note: Indian Intelligence RAW has also sent fighters to ISIS on pre-condition they attack Pakistan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frenetic modernization of Indian armed forces and India’s expansionist designs have compelled the South Asian states to spend a sizeable part of the budget in upgradation of defence capability.   

 

Lackadaisical Role of Governments

 


In addition, instead of promoting unity and integration (both at national and regional levels) it led to ethnic solidarities and identification with religion and culture.

Role of Masterminds

Terrorism grows enormously when powerful nations do injustice with the developing nations by gobbling up their resources or keeping the weaker nations under their thumb through neo-colonization. The easiest way is to buy the loyalties of the ruling class of the third world, which readily toes the dictated line of the Masterminds to stay in power and get out of sync with the public. Humanity has been trapped by Criminal Masterminds which is causing Global Poverty and Artificial Global Famine.

Poverty Exploited

Deliberately injected poverty in selected countries/regions pave the way for breeding grounds for the youth to deflect towards Global Terrorism and Global Crimes. Poverty and famine tend to make the poverty-stricken people to do anything for little money for their survival. Masterminds can easily find them, twist them including their beliefs/faiths and forcefully use them according to their own desire.

In every targeted country after 9/11, proxies were hired to create disturbances and topple regimes. Hired mercenaries were from the derived class. The purpose of this gory drama on part of the Masterminds is to rob the wealth of the globalized world in stages.

Wars fought on fake narratives

Masterminds also fool their citizens and create a scenario to prove that war is inevitable and war must be fought at all cost. Hidden motive behind all wars is to run their war-related businesses and become richer than ever before.

Many wars in the past were based on lies. Warmongers fooled their own citizens, e.g. Vietnam War, Gulf War on the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. EBOLA, SARS, AIDS & Chicken Pox could be biological weapons to wipe out people in other parts of the world as well as creating artificial famine. 

Americans have lived under the broken umbrella of an empire controlled by 1% dirty rich that cares not to protect the overwhelming majority. They live under the auspices of a regime that spends half of the common people hard earned tax dollars on phoney wars, illegal foreign occupations and excessive militarism at home. Tens of thousands are lucky to afford the bare necessities of life.

Israel in the Middle East and India in South Asia are the cat paws of imperialist USA. The jingoistic trio is committing worst human rights abuses and state terrorism. 

 

Grave Threats Faced by South Asia

The South Asian region currently faces a grave security threat due to increasing extremism and terrorist activities. The politics of violence and extremist trends in South Asia can be linked to the contradictions arising as a consequence of faulty national policies.

The nature and political economy of the states have been instrumental in creating the current crisis. The South Asian states tend to operate in the interests of a coalition of classes and ethnic groups, thereby influencing development policies and the distribution of resources. The pace, content and dynamics of the uneven development patterns in South Asia are among the predominant causes of violence in the region.

Besides the failure of transition to modernity among these South Asian states, political culture has also led to ethnic solidarities and identification with religion and culture.

Interference from external powers and from neighbouring and extra-regional elements (both governments and independent groups) has given a dangerous tilt to the existing volatile situation.

With the marked rise of extremism and increasing terrorist activities, particularly in the past decade, South Asia is among the regions in the world with the highest annual number of fatalities caused by terrorist violence. Ethnic, ideological and political conflicts pose a serious threat to stability and interstate relations.

Each state faces multiple concerns ranging from fundamentalists to ethnopolitical violence, which is consolidating along with the worsening socio-economic conditions.

The situation has become all the more dangerous and alarming in the wake of nuclearisation of two arch-rivals India and Pakistan and unresolved Kashmir dispute which has become a nuclear flashpoint. Indo-US-Afghan-Israel nexus offensively poised against nuclear Pakistan fighting an internal war on terror and confronted with economic and political challenges finds itself in a dangerous situation but is determined to deal with any military adventure squarely.  

 

War on terror initiated by the USA to make the world safe and secure has intensified extremism and terrorism and today the world has become more unsafe and insecure.

 

Causation of Growth of Extremism

 

Terrorism and the rise of extremism have been occurring in South Asia for a variety of reasons, including perpetration by tyrannical and aggressive regimes and rebel groups, social injustice, ideological contradictions, religious beliefs and foreign interference. However, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, government policies and outside interference in all South Asian countries have been the primary factors responsible for the rise of extremism in the region. Terrorism and its political consequences have directly and visibly affected interstate relations in South Asia and have also led to destabilization in the region.

Main Causes. The main causes of Extremism are appended below:

 

Poor economic growth along with high population growth has led to the problems of mass unemployment, hunger and income inequality.

 

The economic inequalities and deprivation have created frustration and insecurity among the masses, leading to an increasing criminalization of society in which there are available targets for exploitation by the extremist elements in and outside the governments.

 

Along with the deteriorating economies of South Asia, governmental policies have accentuated the extremist trend in all these states.

 

Extra-regional actors are primarily responsible for the ongoing wave of terrorism and rising extremism.

 

The extremist trends have been boosted in the South Asian countries due to the interference by the neighbouring and extra-regional countries in the internal affairs of the states.

 

The separatist and ethnic movements have also been supported from across the border, by the governments or any particular group, for its interests.  

 

The Bangla national movement in 1971, which resulted in the partition of Pakistan and formation of Bangladesh, could not have succeeded without the physical military intervention of India aided by the former Soviet Union.

 

Sri Lanka too is an old victim of Indian machinations and Tamil Tigers insurgency was Indian manufactured. Similarly, the Maoists in Nepal are known to have collaboration and sponsorship from India.

 

The Kashmiri freedom movement in India has received only moral, political and diplomatic support from Pakistan since its hands have been tied by new laws on terrorism. Indian forces are breaking all records of state terrorism and human rights to quell popular unarmed uprising seeking the right of self-determination.  

 

Pakistan has a bagful of concrete evidence of India’s RAW deep-rooted involvement in Baluchistan, FATA and Karachi. Indian leaders have often bragged about it and are threatening Pakistan to break it into four pieces. Besides covert operations, India is resorting to water terrorism to make Pakistan dry.

 

Governed by mutual strategic interests, India is being fully supported by the USA, Israel, the West and Afghanistan to destroy Pakistan.

 

 

The Growth of Extremism in Pakistan

 

There were several factors and events that have led to extremism, sectarianism and terrorism in Pakistan. These factors include:

 

  • The early demise of Quaid-e-Azam and murder of Liaqat Ali Khan resulted in a leadership crisis, which persists to this day.

 

  • Uneven development of provinces and growth of regionalism gave rise to fissiparous tendencies and strengthened centrifugal forces in smaller provinces.

 

  • Insensitivity and callous attitude of the elites towards the deprived class bred resentment.

 

  • Selective accountability and pro-rich judicial system added to the frustration of the have-nots.

 

  • Corruption in all government, judicial and police departments eroded moral turpitude and scruples.

 

  • Unresolved Kashmir dispute and State terrorism of India against Kashmiris heightened Jihadi tendencies.

 

  • Western hatred towards Muslims and hounding and persecution of religious elements dubbed as terrorists intensified anti-US feelings.

 

  • Promotion of western values and demeaning of Islam by liberals, sharpened secular-Islamist divide.

 

  • Divisive education system provided unequal opportunities for social growth.

 

  • The impact of regional events like the Iranian revolution, Afghan Jihad and emergence of Taliban.

 

  • Impact of Freedom Struggle in Kashmir and Palestine issue.

 

  • Unresolved Kashmir dispute which has resulted in three major wars and several local conflicts and has led to the nuclearization of South Asia.

 

  • To counter Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, the United States supported and sponsored Pakistan and also the Jihadi groups during the period 1979-1989, which in post-1990 period became a threat for the security and stability of Pakistan.

 

  • After Soviet withdrawal and diminishing of US interests in the region, Pakistan was left in a complete lurch for dealing with the menace of terrorism and extremism spread over the decade of its war against Soviets.

 

  • With the 9/11 incident, Pakistan once again became a frontline state in the war against terrorism. The renewed interference by the US in Pakistan and Pakistan’s support against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan once again aggravated the extremist and anti-US elements, having extensive implications on the internal security situation.

 

  • The US initiated war on terror in Afghanistan was purposely fomented in Pakistan with ulterior motives to destabilize, secularize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan.

 

  • Unstable Afghanistan was used as a base of operation to achieve the objectives against Pakistan through massive covert war and hybrid war.

 

Way Forward

 

War is not an option in which economy dies again and again, BUT Love is, which starts with forgiveness as mentioned in the Quran, (Ref: Al_Quran_041:035).

South Asian countries should assume the responsibility for internal reforms, avoid extremism and confrontation and ensure economic and social development, through ensuring respect for human right and paying special attention to human resource development programs.

 

The West particularly the United States should seek to resolve all political disputes that become breeding grounds of terrorism, reject equating Islam with terrorism and assist the Muslim world in poverty alleviation and socio-economic development.

 

Socio-economic problems and human security issues need to be accorded the highest priority by governments, as these are the main cause of frustration among the masses and particularly among the educated and unemployed youth, who become easy recruits for radical organizations which involve them in their terrorist activities. In addition to individual state efforts to deal with extremism, a concerted regional effort is also required as the problem has an additional external dimension to it.

There is no shortcut to eradicating regional problems since they are the result of a consistent and gradual failure of the state to deal with the issue of public security and grievances, and also the failure of society to curb tendencies of extremism and intolerance. Without formulating a comprehensive approach to deal with the issue of extremism at the state, society and regional level, the menace of radicalism cannot be eradicated.

There is dire need to address root causes of extremism and terrorism by providing an equitable social and economic order and just judicial system at the global level.

It is time for Global World to wake up and be careful from Mastermind Criminals/Terrorists and prevent humanity from those by joining Global Unity without any discrimination of Religion, Race, Sect, Gender, Color, Nationality, Rich, Poor, Young or Old etc. Otherwise, they could be next in line.

To Protect World from Criminals/Terrorists which is causing Global Poverty and Artificial Global Famine as well, we must understand Criminal Masterminds, and we must find the roots of all Crimes, starting from Mother Womb till the Grave.

It is not Wealth (Gold or Silver etc.) or Power which can save the Global World. Allah seized Qaroon, Pharaoh, and Hamaan and many more, for their crimes against humanity and nothing could save them, not even their wealth, power, or people, etc., (Ref: Al_Quraan_029:039). The World didn’t end there, but it re-developed after a Great Revolution.

One sure way of curbing extremist tendencies is China’s policy of peace and friendship and connectivity through One Belt One Road project of which CPEC is the fulcrum, for collective growth and development of the region.

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. Email: asifharoonraja@gmail.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A journey back into Pakistan’s convoluted history by Brig(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

A journey back into Pakistan’s convoluted history

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

Pakistan’s years of infancy

The establishment of Pakistan, on August 14, 1947, was the result of the democratic struggle of Indian Muslims during the Pakistan movement under the leadership of All India Muslim League. After the creation of Pakistan, various domestic and international factors impeded the growth of democracy in Pakistan. After the untimely demise of Quaid-e-Azam in September 1948, it had to struggle hard for its existence and survival because of the innate animosity of India and that of Afghanistan, espousing greater Pakhtunistan, along with the former Soviet Union’s tilt toward India.

Heightened security concerns and political instability after the murder of Liaqat Ali Khan disallowed earlier leaders to achieve specific goals to make Pakistan politically stable, economically strong and secure. The tense geopolitical environment also impelled Pakistan to place all its eggs in the basket of the USA.  It was due to the leadership crisis, the East-West political wrangling and the frequent change of Prime Ministers which delayed constitution making for nine years and impelled President Iskandar Mirza to impose martial law in 1958.

Gen Ayub and Gen Yahya eras

The 1956 Constitution was abrogated and the National Assembly was dissolved. After deposing Mirza, Gen Ayub Khan assumed power and became the President through a referendum in 1960. He gave the new constitution in 1962 which introduced the presidential system, vesting all powers in the institution of President. The political parties made various types of alliances against Ayub Khan, who resigned in March 1969 and handed over his power to Gen Yahya Khan who imposed martial law and held first general elections in December 1970. Pakistan went through the traumatic experience of severance of its Eastern limb by India, helped by former USSR in 1971.

At his behest, DG FIA Asghar and Additional DG FIA Rahman Malik handed over Arab militants and Pak Jihadists involved in the Afghan war to the USA and also fed information about the Kahuta plant.

ZAB’s rule

After the separation of East Pakistan, the People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) formed its government. Charismatic and popular, ZAB galvanized the depressed nation. He terrorized the military through the Hamoodur Rahman Commission probe, terrified his political opponents through FSF and the Dalai torture camp. Pakistan then carried the baggage of ruinous nationalization scheme of ZAB. To get rid of him, an alliance of political and religious parties known as the PNA movement, espousing Nizam-e-Mustafa, sprouted in April 1977.

Gen Zia ul Haq’s rule

When the two sides couldn’t arrive at a political solution to break the logjam, the Army, under Gen Ziaul Haq, seized power in July 1977 and imposed martial law in Pakistan. Zia had to face the 10-year Afghan war, the RAW-KGB-KHAD-AlZulfiqar sabotage, series of political disturbances including the MRD movements in 1981 and 1983, but he remained firmly in his saddle and kept Islamizing the society till his death in a mysterious air crash.

In regard to this, In reaction to the hanging of their father on April 4, 1979, after the verdict of the Supreme Court, Al-Zulfiqar –  a militant wing of the PPP, led by the two sons of ZAB – came into being and it was assisted by Syria, Libya, Russia, Afghanistan, and India to undertake sabotage and subversion in Pakistan. The PPP stalwart Mustafa Khar, during his exile in London, was in contact with RAW to smuggle arms into Pakistan and when the Soviet forces occupied Afghanistan in December 1979, he stated that if Soviet tanks roll into Pakistan he will garland them and come riding on them.

Although the ten-year Afghan war helped Gen Zia in legitimizing his regime and prolonging his rule to 11 years, the Afghan war ended on a mix of happy and unhappy notes for Pakistan. It enabled Gen Zia to complete its nuclear program and carry out a cold test; victory in Afghanistan enhanced his and Pakistan’s prestige substantially; it enthused the entire Muslim world; it drew in over $ 3.5 billion US assistance, which helped in upping GDP to 8% and in inducting F-16s.

After the creation of Pakistan, various domestic and international factors impeded the growth of democracy in Pakistan.

On the negative side, Pakistan was callously ditched by the USA and put under harsh sanctions. Pakistan was burdened with 5 million Afghan refugees and the fallout effects brought in Jihadism, Kalashnikov and drug cultures. Abandoned Afghanistan became more explosive because of infighting among Mujahideen groups for power with negative consequences for Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto (BB), during her period of exile in London, had made friends in the UK and the US higher circles. CIA and MI-6 cultivated her and once she fell in line and agreed to tow their line if brought to power, the pressure was mounted on Gen Zia and PM Junejo to let her return to Pakistan and start her political career. She was welcomed by a mammoth crowd at Lahore in April 1986. Her growing popularity didn’t upset the military as long as Gen Zia held the reins of power. But the situation took a dramatic turn after his death in a plane crash on August 7, 1988, which was masterminded by CIA.

There was a power vacuum since the country was without a president and PM. The military vacuum was quickly filled up by Vice Army Chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg, and Chairman Senate Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) took over as Acting President, but in order to fill the political vacuum, it was decided to hold elections in October that year.

Benazir Bhutto’s first stint in power

Alarmed by the rising popularity of BB owing to success of her narrative that her father had been judicially murdered by the military dictator, which had generated a huge sympathy wave in Punjab and Sindh, the civil and military establishment decided to form a countervailing force in the form of IJI in 1988 to prevent PPP from gaining two-thirds majority and usher in controlled democracy. The ISI, under late Lt Gen Hamid Gul, played a key role in this regard.

The list helped India in crushing the movement which was well poised to get linked with the liberation movement in Kashmir.

The main reason for taking this unpalatable act was that it had been ascertained that BB had been fed with an agenda to roll back the nuclear program, roll back the victory of Afghan Mujahideen, and keep Kashmir issue on a back burner and to befriend India. Despite the IJI, PPP managed to win a simple majority but found it difficult to form the federal govt. BB was allowed to take the reins of power under the conditions that GIK will be allowed to contest the presidential election, Lt Gen Sahibzada Yaqub will continue as Foreign Minister, there will be no change in Afghan and Kashmir policies, and that the military will control the nuclear program.

After assuming power as the first woman PM of a Muslim country, BB appointed a retired general as DG ISI, closed the Afghan and Kashmir desks in ISI and curtailed funding to the nuclear program. She fraternized with her Oxford friend Rajiv Gandhi and provided a list of Sikh leaders involved in the Khalistan movement to India in 1989. The list helped India in crushing the movement which was well poised to get linked with the liberation movement in Kashmir. To appease the Army, she awarded democracy medals to all ranks of the army and also initiated guided missile program. Zardari dented her popularity after he earned the nickname of Mr. 10% due to his craze for corruption. Mounting complaints of corruption, inefficiency and security concerns impelled GIK to apply the draconian Article 58 (2-B) and sack the govt in August 1990.

Political engineering in 1990

In order to make sure that the PPP doesn’t regain power in next elections, GIK directed COAS Gen Mirza and DG ISI Lt Gen Asad Durrani to arrange money and buy the loyalties of the politicians. The ISI arranged Rs 140 million through Mehran Bank manager Habib Yunis, who obtained a loan from Habib Bank. The amount was distributed among several politicians. Political engineering enabled IJI, under Nawaz Sharif, (NS) to win the elections and form a govt. NS fell from the grace of the President and he was booted out in April 1993. He was restored by the Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasim Hasan Shah, but he and the President had to abdicate power once Gen Wahid Kakar umpired the match between the two titans.

PPP second tenure

The PPP once again captured power in the next elections in 1994 but could survive only till 1996. This time her own party loyalist and her handpicked President Laghari dismissed her since Zardari’s corruption rating had upped to 20% along with the surfacing of mega scandals such as the Surrey Palace, the diamond necklace, the Swiss bank accounts, and several other scandals. At his behest, DG FIA Asghar and Additional DG FIA Rahman Malik handed over Arab militants and Pak Jihadists involved in the Afghan war to the USA and also fed information about the Kahuta plant.

There was a total intelligence vacuum in Karachi, Baluchistan, FATA and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), allowing full liberty of action to proscribed groups to strike targets of choice.

In 1996, Lt Gen Asad Durrani who had been appointed an ambassador in Germany by the PPP govt, handed over a signed affidavit to Rahman Malik acknowledging that he had distributed money to politicians to ensure the defeat of the PPP. The then Interior Minister retired Maj Gen Naseerullah Babar stated on the floor of the parliament that money had been doled out to politicians in 1990.

Based on this revelation, late Air Marshal Asghar Khan heading Tehrik Istiqlal of which Imran Khan was the member, informed Chief Justice Nasim about pre-poll rigging and distribution of money to politicians to manipulate election results in 1990. The apex court, however, didn’t pursue the case and put it in a cold storage until it was reactivated by Chief Justice Iftikhar in October 2012. He ruled that the 1990 elections were rigged and directed FIA to proceed against the two generals involved in the racket. GIK by then was no more in the world.

Gen Mirza and Gen Asad went into appeals against the court’s decision and the case were once again frozen. The 22-year old case was re-energized by the incumbent Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on May 4, 2018, in spite of the fact that the plaintiff Asghar Khan had passed away in January 2018. Notices were sent to the accused to restart the proceedings. On May 7, Saqib and other two judges, after reviewing their petitions against October 2012 judgment, rejected them. The govt has been asked to inform the court how to proceed against the accused.

Events from 1996 – 2018

In the intervening period between 1996 and 2018, major changes took place on the political front. Starting with the victory of PML-N in February 1997 elections with a heavy mandate, Ehtesab Commission was also opened and corruption cases against the royal couple and others were initiated. In May 1988, Pakistan became nuclear. NS rightly took the credit for it along with for the first ever Islamabad-Lahore Highway and for terminating floor crossing by passing 13th Amendment. However, by making Pakistan a nuclear power, he, as well as Pakistan became the eye of the storm. He was demonized by his opponents, captioning him as Ameerul Momineen.

NS fell from the grace of the President and he was booted out in April 1993. He was restored by the Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasim Hasan Shah, but he and the President had to abdicate power once Gen Wahid Kakar umpired the match between the two titans.

The Kargil route was taken by his own appointee Gen Musharraf to dethrone his two-thirds majority govt on October 12, 1999. NS was awarded life sentence but was rescued by the Saudi King Saud and he and his family were deported and banished from politics for the next 10 years. It was during his period of exile in which he and his sons purchased Azizya steel mills and Gulf steel mills in Saudi Arabia/Dubai and Avenfield apartments in London.

Democratic era (1988 – 1999)

The chaotic ten-year democratic era nosedived the economy, increased debt burden, made Pakistan dependent upon foreign financial institutions, heightened sectarianism, ethnicity and religious extremism and decomposed moral values of the society. PPP and PML-N ruled two times each but only for shortened tenures ranging from 20 months to 2 ½ years.

Gen Musharraf’s nine-year rule

The Supreme Court legitimized Musharraf’s take over and gave him 3 years to amend the constitution and then hold elections. His 7-point agenda had germs of success and the potential to rid Pakistan of its chronic diseases, but it was never implemented. So was the NAB, which was created for across the board accountability.

9/11 changed the whole dynamics of global politics. New laws were framed by the US and its strategic partners to undermine Islam and neo-colonize the Muslim world through the Muslim specific war on terror. Pakistan was among the listed target countries but it was made an ally and a tactical partner to achieve short-term objectives and subsequently was to be destabilized and denuclearized and Balkanized through the covert war.

NS rightly took the credit for it along with for the first ever Islamabad-Lahore Highway and for terminating floor crossing by passing 13th Amendment.

Gen Musharraf, in his quest for legitimacy and to gain the goodwill of the USA, readily accepted all the seven demands of Washington for which Pakistan had to pay a very heavy price and is still paying. Having roped in Pakistan to act as a frontline state to fight the war on terror, the insurgency was ignited by CIA and FBI in FATA and interior Baluchistan and subsequently the flames of terrorism were gradually spread to all parts of Pakistan.

While Pak security forces got engaged in fighting, the foreign-funded and equipped terrorists – India under a pre-planned program blamed Pakistan for all the acts of terror in India from 2001 to 2008, starting with an engineered attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 to culminating in Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008. Likewise, Afghan President Karzai blamed Pakistan for all the attacks in Afghanistan from 2004 onward. The purpose was to build a narrative that the Pak Army and ISI were rogue outfits and Pakistan an abettor of terrorism while India, Afghanistan, and ISAF were victims of terrorism.

Musharraf committed the same mistake of his military predecessors by inviting the discarded and corrupt politicians to form a King’s Party in 2002 and leaning upon the shady bureaucrats and foreign imported Finance Minister cum PM Shaukat Aziz. Relief given by consumerism oriented economy proved short-lived. None realized that a country ridden with corruption, terrorism, moral decay and devoid of genuine leadership and true democracy can never progress.

2007, a precarious year

2007 proved to be a heavy year for Musharraf. The downslide in law and order, urban terrorism, economy, energy, and extremism began after the lawyer’s movement in March 2007. Lawyers, civil society, politicians and religious forces ganged up against Musharraf. The year saw the May 12, 2007 carnage in Karachi, Lal Masjid episode, birth of Punjabi Taliban, creation of TTP, sudden upsurge in urban terrorism, signing of NRO which dry cleaned PPP-MQM leaders and imposition of emergency. Civil-military relations soured and Musharraf became the most hated man while Army’s image dipped. It became difficult for officers and men to go to the market or travel in uniform, or display star plate/flag on an official vehicle.

The worst was when the judiciary unseated NS in July 2017, deprived him of his seat of party head and disqualified him from politics for life on Iqama and not in thePanama case.

NRO allowed Musharraf to rule for the next five years in uniform. Thanks to the patronage of Musharraf, MQM gained full control over Karachi-Hyderabad and expanded its influence in other urban centers in Sindh. The insurgency in Baluchistan morphed into a separatist movement. There was a total intelligence vacuum in Karachi, Baluchistan, FATA and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), allowing full liberty of action to proscribed groups to strike targets of choice. The murderous attack took place on BB on October 17 in Karachi and on December 27, she was murdered in Pindi. There was mayhem in Sindh; over Rs 4 billion worth property was destroyed by the hooligans and Pakistan ‘Na Khapey’ slogan was chanted by angry Jayalas in Sindh.

PPP returns to power

Zardari’s slogan of ‘Pakistan Khapey’ dimmed the volatility in Sindh, enabling him to hijack his party with ease and take part in elections after getting himself absolved of all charges. The fragility of the state enabled the USA to install a dream team after March 2008 elections, making Zardari the all-powerful president. The PML-N govt in Punjab was the only eyesore. The coalition govt of PPP-MQM-ANP zealously pursued the US agenda to civilianize ISI, emasculate the Army, disable the nuclear program and make Pakistan wholly dependent.

Rahman Malik and NSA Mahmud Durrani docilely accepted the Indian claim that Pakistan soil was used for launching non-state actors into Mumbai in November 2008. Former admitted that the sole surviving accused Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani and Anchor Hamid Mir traced his village in Faridpur. Although NRO was nullified by the Chief Justice in 2009, Zardari protected himself behind immunity shield and used his authority to bailout Rahman Malik and to let Hussain Haqqani (HH) fly out in 2012.

The Army couldn’t dismantle terrorism even after launching big operations in Swat, Shangla, Malakand, Dir, Buner, and six tribal agencies in FATA from 2009 to 2011. The reason was obvious; the proscribed militant groups had the full support of foreign agencies, but Pakistan danced to the tunes of the USA. Gen Kayani put a break on ‘Do More’ mantra by refusing to enter North Waziristan despite extreme pressure. Pakistan was punished for its defiance by way of the raid on Abbottabad on May 2 and the Salala attack on November 26, 2011.

The purpose was to build a narrative that the Pak Army and ISI were rogue outfits and Pakistan an abettor of terrorism while India, Afghanistan, and ISAF were victims of terrorism.   

The arrest of Raymond Davis in January that year followed by these two incidents, Memogate scandal, and monitoring of HH, Pak ambassador in Washington, opened the eyes of the security establishment. They realized how deeply the CIA and Blackwater had established their network in Pakistan. Over 8000 CIA contractors in different guises had been secretly settled in Pakistan between 2008 and 2011, and 400 houses rented in Islamabad, besides expanding the US Embassy in Islamabad beyond all proportions. The Interior Minister Rahman Malik assisted HH, and several MNAs/MPAs in KP were in touch with CIA.

What could the military do when all its so-called allies were playing a double game in the garb of friends and our own government was in cahoots with the enemies of Pakistan, wanting to enervate the military?

How could terrorism be defeated when the regime was aligned with the USA which had marked Pakistan as a target and was using terrorism as a tool to disable the Pak nuclear program? How could terrorism be reined in when the judges had no heart to hang terrorists and target killers and get hold of that financing terrorism? How could corruption be curbed when the ones indulging in loot and plunder could not be convicted? Chief Justice Iftikhar’s suo motos were aimed at self-projection only.

The dangerous plan to denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan was scuttled by the Army and ISI, but the vultures clawed away the meat and reduced Pakistan into a carcass in their 5-year inglorious rule.

India has so far not furnished any proof to substantiate its allegations, but NS cockeyed statement given in angst which is being hyped by Indian media will bolster Indo-US anti-Pakistan narrative.

PML-N captures power

When PML-N took over power in June 2013, it had inherited an empty national kitty, heavy debt burden, crippled state corporations, a depressed economy teetering at the edge of collapse, the worst energy crisis and a sunk image of the country. Law, order and the security situation was dismal and morality of the society had degenerated. In short, everything was topsy-turvy. It was an uphill task for the new govt to put everything back on the rails. NS wore the crown studded with thorns.

To the utter surprise of his critics, things started to improve dramatically within one year which alarmed his political opponents. Tangible results were achieved in the fields of economy, terrorism, law, and order, energy crisis and development due to better governance, financial management and launching intelligence-based targeted operations in Karachi, Baluchistan and North Waziristan.

Nawaz Sharif’s downhill journey

The PML-N’s development agenda made visible progress despite series of impediments created by PTI from June 2014 onward through politics of agitation and non-cooperation. The worst was when the judiciary unseated NS in July 2017, deprived him of his seat of party head and disqualified him from politics for life on Iqama and not in the Panama case. Law Minister Zahid Hamid was forced to resign, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar implicated in a corruption case sought refuge abroad, while the Foreign Minister was disqualified.

Several leading lights of the ruling regime have been charge sheeted on account of contempt of court, while NAB has become super active in Punjab. The Railway Minister is under the axe, while the Interior Minister was shot and injured but narrowly survived. An orchestrated campaign was launched to defame NS and his family.

Over 8000 CIA contractors in different guises had been secretly settled in Pakistan between 2008 and 2011, and 400 houses rented in Islamabad, besides expanding the US Embassy in Islamabad beyond all proportions.

It looks as if a willful effort is underway to fragment the ruling party and pave the way for others to gain power in next elections. The political coup in Baluchistan and Senate elections have reinforced this impression.

For the judiciary, PTI, PPP and segment of media allegedly backed by the establishment, NS is the target. Sufficient progress has been made in maligning NS and his family in a corruption case and he has been unseated from two seats of power and disqualified to hold any public office for life. Decisions on three references filed against him and his family and his conviction are around the corner. As a consequence, PML-N which till April had stayed intact has begun to crack and over two dozen MNAs and MPAs have deserted the party.

NS was expected to throw in his towel after his unseating on July 28, 2017, but despite the hard blows he and his party leaders have suffered, he is still in a defiant mood. Since August 2 last year, he is on the offensive trying to build a narrative of innocence to garner the sympathy of the people. He is repeatedly asking as to why he was ousted and inciting his voters to help him in restoring the sanctity of vote that was frequently dishonoured.

Encouraged by the response, he is urging the people to wait for his call and then ask his detractors as to why he was wronged. He is exhorting the people to return his party to power with a heavy majority so that the constitution could be suitably amended to clips the wings of the overactive judiciary. After targeting the judiciary he is now openly blaming the establishment and tags it as ‘celestial beings’.

It is this fear of amending the constitution that had in all probability impelled the unseen powers to carry out a political coup in Baluchistan last January and then resort to horse trading in Senate elections to disallow the incumbent govt under Abbasi to perform the surgery. This apprehension together with reported linkage of NS with India, as was exposed in the Dawn leaks scandal, has brought the judiciary and establishment together. A hung Parliament comprising of several parties is probably what is desired. It is to this end that BAP and JSNM have come into being. PTI is treated as a Ladla while sins of PPP are being handled softly. PTI is fully supporting the judiciary and NAB and pressing them to speed up completion of trials against NS.

Taking advantage of the hullabaloo, the US managed to whisk away its blacklisted Defence Attaché Col Joseph involved in killing a Pakistani under the pretext of diplomatic immunity. 

What was not taken into account was NS’s counter-offensive and his narrative of ‘Mujhey Kyun Nikala’, which initially made him a laughing stock but gradually generated a sympathy wave in Punjab. In spite of the hurdles, injuries incurred and smear campaign, PML-N remains a popular entity. In case, Shahbaz Sharif remains in his chair, in a fair contest PML-N stands a good chance to again win in next elections even if NS is jailed.

Nawaz Sharif’s desperation

Pushed against the wall and realizing that time for his landing in jail has drawn near, it has made NS fidgety and desperate. After consistently naming the establishment as ‘celestial beings’, in desperation he has fallen to cheap tactics to degrade the military. On May 3, he said he had many secrets tucked away in his heart, and that when it becomes too unbearable for him to hold them, he will begin revealing them one by one.

According to Dawn newspaper dated May 12, in his interview with Cyril Almeida at Multan, NS stated: ‘Militant organizations are active. Call them non-state actors; should we allow them to cross the border and kill over 150 people in Mumbai. He questioned, “Should we allow them?” He asked as to why no action has been taken against them. These were calculated salvos against the military and the judiciary.

Mumbai attacks were a false flag operation jointly enacted by RAW-Mossad-CIA to get the Pak Army and ISI declared as rogue entities. This was admitted by Indian Home Ministry officials in 2012 and recently by a Jewish German journalist Elias Davidsson. He has given out full details of the gory drama in his book ‘The Betrayal of India’, concluding that the whole drama was cooked up and enacted with specific objectives to undermine Pakistan. India has so far not furnished any proof to substantiate its allegations, but NS cockeyed statement given in angst which is being hyped by Indian media will bolster Indo-US anti-Pakistan narrative. What is most worrying is the possibility of NS receiving a pat from enemies of Pakistan to issue this statement.

There is an uproar in Pakistan and NS who was already under a heavy fire of his opponents and haters is being fiercely censured. They eye him as a traitor promoting the sinister Indo-US agenda to gain the sympathy of the international establishment. Many are demanding his trial under Article 6.

He is exhorting the people to return his party to power with a heavy majority so that the constitution could be suitably amended to clips the wings of the overactive judiciary.

NSC meeting – May 14

The Dawn story was so damaging for Pakistan that an NSC meeting presided over by PM Abbasi was held on May 14 at the request of the Army. Before the meeting, Abbasi held a meeting with NS and the latter informed him that his interview had been distorted and he had never said that Pakistan had sent non-state actors to India. As regards his mention of non-state actors and need for their control, NS told Abbasi that this had frequently been cited by Musharraf, Rahman Malik, Mahmud Durrani and lot many journalists and academicians and there was nothing new he had said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The press release issued after the NSC meeting termed the interview published in Dawn malicious, misleading and incorrect. The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions. It was recalled that it was not Pakistan but India that had delayed the finalization of the case.

Abbasi held his own press briefing a little after the NSC meeting in which he tried to further tone down the negative effects of NS’s blooper in the light of his clarifications and stated that NS assertions were distorted and hyped by Indian media. NS in his public meeting in Buner in the afternoon didn’t express any regrets and stated that a national commission should be formed which should ascertain as to who all acted against national security, carry out trial and those found guilty should be publicly hanged.

Taking advantage of the hullabaloo, the US managed to whisk away its blacklisted Defence Attaché Col Joseph involved in killing a Pakistani under the pretext of diplomatic immunity.

 It seems NS has fatally shot himself in the foot at the wrong time when he was gaining an upper edge over chairman NAB on account of latter’s issuance of unverified press release insinuating NS for transferring $4.9 billion to India.

Blunder will prove costly for Nawaz

Whatever be the case, no amount of explanations will absolve NS of this blunder since his interview can have grave repercussions for Pakistan. He cannot justify his interview to Almeida, ill-reputed for distortions. It seems NS has fatally shot himself in the foot at the wrong time when he was gaining an upper edge over chairman NAB on account of latter’s issuance of unverified press release insinuating NS for transferring $4.9 billion to India. This ill-timed stupidity will prove costly for him. His future plans of energizing his voters to create law and order situation in Punjab may be jeopardized. It may also make a negative impact on PML-N’s performance in elections. This insanity has brightened the chances of PTI, which has already gathered the support of 70 electives in Punjab.

Future prospects

In case the PML-N loses the race in a peacefully conducted elections without political engineering in July, it will still retain Punjab. The next federal govt will possibly be a mix of several parties which will find it exceedingly difficult to pass bills for carrying out critical reforms. It will inherit a relatively healthy Pakistan and not a sick Pakistan as it was in 2013. Our GDP stands at 5.8 % and is likely to increase to 6%. Economic indicators are still in positive. CPEC by itself is an economic booster which has already sucked in $ 62 billion investment and much more is to come. Once CPEC becomes operational in next one year or so, with over 7000 cargo vehicles plying every month, and new investors flocking in, bags of money will pour in. Hence the prospects for the next set of legislators are much brighter.

This factor is watering the mouths of power seekers, particularly PPP, and hence their desperation to seize power. They want to be in control of the inflowing investments, taxpayer money and remittances from abroad so that they can undertake future development and social projects as well as personal enrichment. In the next five years, the ones sitting in corridors of power will multiply their fortunes. In their mad lust to amass maximum wealth, they will again lose sight of the welfare of masses for which they were elected. Service to people to better their lives will, as usual, be relegated to lowest priority and funds wasted on maintaining regal lifestyle, pomp and show and foreign visits. Tall promises will once again remain unaccomplished and gullible people would again wait for the arrival of a messiah.

The writer is a defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, vice chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

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India’s bid to isolate Pakistan Asif Haroon Raja, Defence Analyst

 

India’s bid to isolate Pakistan

Asif Haroon Raja

Defence Analyst

 

 

After the false flag operation in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, India blamed Pakistan, ISI and Hafiz Saeed led Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attacks (1), and suspended composite dialogue with Pakistan that had been renewed in February 2004 as a consequence to Indo-Pakistan peace treaty and a commitment to resolve all disputes including Kashmir issue through talks. Since then, India pushed aside Kashmir dispute and made terrorism as the core issue. Without providing any proof, it forced Pakistan to arrest and punish the alleged culprits involved in Mumbai attacks. In fact, India cleverly built a narrative of terrorism against Pakistan from the time of engineered terror attack on December 13, 2001, in which the Indian Parliament in New Delhi was attacked by a handful of terrorists(1). After blaming Pakistan and Jaish-e- Muhammad, India deployed its entire military strength along its western border and remained in confrontation mode for next ten months.

Thereon, all terror attacks in India were put in the basket of Pakistan. The purpose of building this narrative was to get Pakistan declared a terrorist state and ISI a rogue outfit. Its strategic partners USA and Afghanistan substantiated Indian stance. Indian attitude became more aggressive after Narendra Modi took over power in June 2014. From August 2014 onward, the Indian military has kept the Line of Control and working boundary in Kashmir sector hot and hardly a day has passed without unprovoked firing by India. The upsurge in the uprising in IOK after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in July 2016 was also placed at the doorsteps of Pakistan. Pakistan was blamed for the militants’ attacks in Udhampur and Pathankot airbase. The militant attack on Uri military camp in April 2016(1a) further incensed India and it started hurling threats of surgical strikes and limited war. Intruding Indian drone was shot down by Pakistan Army, while Indian submarine on a spying mission was forced to retreat by Pak Navy. 

Besides political, diplomatic and military posturing to overawe and isolate Pakistan, India has also been trying to ease out Pakistan from its membership of SAARC. The 19th SAARC summit scheduled at Islamabad in November 2016 had to be cancelled due to India refusing to attend it and Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan the following suit to boycott the summit. (2)     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After sabotaging the Summit, India also tried to halt the appointment of the New Secretary-General, Amjad Hussian B Sial. India justified its actions by stating that the nominee had to be ratified by the Council of Ministers conference in Islamabad. Something which could not take place due to the postponement of the Summit. (3)

 

Soon after the appointment of the New Secretary-General in March 2017, India hosted a meeting on March 21, 2017, of security chiefs from the seven member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) The meeting was a first for the BIMSTEC group, which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.(4) This meeting focused on terrorism, cyber and maritime security challenges facing the region. It was decided at the meeting to establish a track 1.5 dialogue forum focused on security. Given the importance of cooperating on security-related matters, it was also decided to hold such meetings annually. It was no surprise that Pakistan was again left out of this meeting. (5)

 

Another meeting was held in the month of October 2017 in which India again tried to push back SAARC and attempted to boost the significance of BIMSTEC. In his remarks during the meeting, Foreign Secretary of India S. (6) In an implicit reference to Pakistan, he also said that “as one country” is not, and since the other seven-nation regional grouping BIMSTEC has members that are “broadly aligned” and “articulate similar aspirations”, and are connected to the other members of the South Asian regional bloc on the key issue of terrorism, it was unlikely that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) could be revived.(7)

 

India has also tried to marginalize Pakistan on other forums as well. For instance, when Sushma Swaraj met SAARC foreign ministers in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September 2017, India’s disinterest in the summit was evident. This added to the downgrading of the entire organization. With India-Pakistan bilateral relations on the downturn, the domino impact on the South Asian body has only worsened. (8)

 

During her speech, Swaraj did not refer to the uncertainties surrounding the SAARC Summit but stressed the primacy given to the removal of terrorism which in implicit terms was actually taking a jab at Islamabad: “Regional prosperity, connectivity and cooperation can take place only in an atmosphere of peace and security.(9) It, however, remains at serious risk in the region. It is necessary for our region’s survival that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support.”(10)

 

On January 2, 2018, India excluded Pakistan from the list of SAARC member countries with which it will be connecting its state-of-the-art National Knowledge Network (NKN) for sharing scientific databases and remote access to advanced research facilities.(11)

 

NKN will extend global research and education networks to six SAARC member states — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Pakistan is the only SAARC nation that has been left out of this initiative. (12)

NKN is a multi-gigabit pan-India network which facilitates the development of India’s communications infrastructure, stimulates research and creates next-generation applications and services. (13) This new initiative will enable collaboration among researchers from different educational networks such as TEIN4, GARUDA, CERN and Internet2. It also enables sharing of scientific databases and remote access to advanced research facilities.(14)

NKN will be connected from Afghanistan to Delhi or Mumbai, from Bangladesh to Kolkata or Delhi, from Bhutan to Kolkata or Delhi, from Nepal to Kolkata or Delhi, from the Maldives to Chennai or Mumbai and from Sri Lanka to Chennai or Mumbai. (15) A state-of-the-art management centre and network operations centre will also be set up to run the NKN network. The connection from Afghanistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka to India would be through a submarine cable for international connectivity. (16)

 

It is evident that it is not Pakistan that is creating hurdles in the way of successful implementation of SAARC’s agenda, but in fact, it is India which is trying to isolate Pakistan by using underhand tactics. India has used terrorism as a basis for suspension of official talks with Pakistan due to alleged terrorist attacks launched by groups from across the border. The chill in relations has spread out to other sectors such as research and scientific development as well – something, which negatively affects the entire region.

 

On the question of terrorism, it is again very clear that it is not Pakistan which is sponsoring terrorism. On the contrary, it is India funding radicalization in South Asia – especially in Pakistan. Kulbhushan Jadhav is a prime example of this.

 

India should also realize that it is not the only country in SAARC that can dominate all the other members. Instead, Delhi should remember the agenda of regional cooperation on which SAARC was formed and countries should use this forum for regional cooperation, not for a rivalry. SAARC should not be the organization to prolong the rivalry among regional states, rather it should serve for greater regional cooperation and economic integration. If the region is thrown into negativity, India will suffer along with the others as well. This is something Delhi needs to keep in mind. After all, what goes around comes around. India must also not forget that CPEC has taken off and sooner than later, SAARC members will gravitate toward this profit making project and leave India which is opposed to CPEC in a lurch.

 

  • The News, December 14, 2001

(1a)       “Uri Attack: India, Pakistan’s Kashmir Dispute Flares Again.” Time. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://time.com/4498891/kashmir-uri-attack-india-pakistan-military-conflict/

 

 (2)       Baqir Sajjad Syed | Jawed Naqvi. “SAARC summit in doldrums after India pulls out.” DAWN.COM September 28, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.dawn.com/news/1286609

 (3)       Kathmandu Anil Giri Hindustan. “Appointment of SAARC secretary general hit by India-Pakistan tensions.” Times. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/appointment-of-SAARC-secretary-general-hit-by-india-pakistan-tensions/story-1b1wlC1CrEbquDvQRuQZkN.html

 (4)     Gurjar, Sankalp. “Is SAARC Doomed?” The Diplomat. April 01, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://thediplomat.com/2017/04/is-SAARC-doomed/

 (5)     Ibid.

 (6)     Bagchi, Indrani. “Question mark over SAARC summit again” The Times of India. September 23, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/question-mark-over-SAARC-summit-again/articleshow/60801709.cms

 (7)     Ibid.

 (8)     Bagchi, Indrani. “Question mark over SAARC summit again .” The Times of India. September 23, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/question-mark-over-SAARC-summit-again/articleshow/60801709.cms

 (9)     Ibid.

(10)     Ibid.

 (11)       “India excludes Pakistan from SAARC initiative.” Pakistan Today. Accessed January 25, 2018.

        https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/01/03/india-excludes-pakistan-from-SAARC-initiative/

 

 (12)       “India excludes Pakistan from a SAARC initiative.” The Economic Times. January 03, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-excludes-pakistan-from-a-SAARC-initiative/articleshow/62345991.cms

 (13)       Ibid.

 (14)       Ibid.

 (15)       “India excludes Pakistan from SAARC initiative”, Pakistan Today. Accessed January 25, 2018.

        https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/01/03/india-excludes-pakistan-from-SAARC-initiative/

 (16)       “Modi Government excludes Pakistan from the list of SAARC nations for its State-of-the-Art National Knowledge Network Initiative.” Postcard. January 09, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://postcard.news/modi-government-excludes-pakistan-list-SAARC-nations-state-art-national-knowledge-network-initiative/

                                                                          

 

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Time to Revise our Afghan Policy by Asif Haroon Raja

Time to Revise our Afghan Policy

Asif Haroon Raja

Unprovoked Afghan Aggression

On May 5, 2017, Afghan border security forces carried out unprovoked firing across the Chaman border in Baluchistan on two Pakistani villages namely Kili Luqman and Kili Jahangir, martyring 11 Pakistani civilians including one Frontier Corps (FC) soldier and injuring 50 people. The merciless act was undertaken when national census teams accompanied by FC troops were busy carrying out national population census in the two Pakistani villages in Chaman area, about which Kabul was informed one week in advance. Kabul government had given full assurance of cooperation. The clearly demarcated border runs between the Pakistani villages and Afghan villages. The firers made use of houses of Afghan villages to fire at census teams and villagers and use Afghan villagers as human shields. The shelling continued for 10 hours.

Afghanistan Back stabs Pakistan Since 1947

Pakistan Housed Fed 5 Million Afghans

 

 

As if this provocative act was not enough, Afghan forces repeated the offensive act across Torkham border in Khyber Agency by firing for one hour on two Pakistani posts. Pakistan has closed the Bab-e-Dosti Chaman border gate as well as Torkham gate and the situation is still tense.

This is the second time that Afghanistan has resorted to aggression in less than one year time. Last was on Torkham crossing point on June 13, 2016 in which one Major succumbed to injuries and 16 were injured in the whole night duel. Reason for unprovoked aggression was construction of border gate well inside Pak territory to check flow of terrorists. Pakistan had retaliated strongly by not only launching a tough counter military action but also closed the two major crossing points for a month.

Pakistan’s Counteraction. After the unprovoked firing, the aggression was fully responded by Pakistan forces causing huge loss on the Afghan side. To start with, civilians from affected villages and adjacent areas were evacuated. Troops were dispatched and Air Force was put on high alert. Pakistan responded effectively. About 7 posts of Afghan Border Police were destroyed and around 30 Afghan soldiers were killed and over 50 injured in counter fire by Pakistan Forces. Pakistan used heavy artillery to pound the Afghan posts. Baab-e-Dosti gate was closed. The counter fire was so devastating that Afghan forces had to wave frantically white flags and pleaded for cease fire. Before cease firing, one suspicious village on the Afghan side was taken under the control by the forward moving troops of Pakistan Armed Forces.

Reason behind Aggression

There are total of 288 crossing points along the 2640 km long Durand Line. Among them, Torkham and Chaman border crossings take major flow of road traffic. Other two important points are Spin Boldak in Balochistan and Angoor Adda in South Waziristan. All crossing points are in use of pedestrians and animal transport since villages are located on both sides of the border at each crossing site. In many cases the villages are divided, half this side and half across the border. These divided villages’ house majority of agents of NDS and RAW working as saboteurs, handlers and informers.

Registration of all residents of border villages would certainly help in identifying the intelligence and drug smuggling network operating on both sides of Chaman and Spin Boldak areas. It was therefore natural for the NDS and drug mafias to get upset over the planned population census and hence decided to disrupt it.

The two colluding partners NDS-RAW tasked notorious drug baron Gen Abdul Razaq Achakzai to undertake the disruption plan. He was more worried about the two villages in Chaman since his handlers were residing there and his smuggling route passed through these villages. He gladly accepted the responsibility. As per rough estimates, his drug smuggling network based in border villages and Afghan refugee camps earn a profit of $ 6 million annually.

NDS-RAW joint Plan

It has now been gathered that NDS and RAW had prepared this plan four days prior to the attack. RAW joined the show since it had failed to prevent population census process in the Azad Kashmir villages situated along the LoC on account of heightened uprising in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) and Indian forces breaking all records of barbarism against Kashmiris and the world focus on IOK. It decided to place its gun on the shoulders of Afghanistan and fire the gun to kill two birds in one go – avenge Indian Army’s helplessness and to further up the ante on western border.

For the planned attack, light weapons, artillery guns, ammunition and explosives were stored in the houses of the villages opposite the two target villages well before hand. Those houses were used as bunkers from where firing was done and residents were used as human shields to prevent the other side to retaliate with full force. However, Pak forces struck back at Afghan check posts in which the Militia men of Razaq were resting in peace.

Background of Lt Gen Razaq

It will be worthwhile to shed light on so-called Gen Abdul Razaq Achakzai. He was made police chief of Kandahar 6 years ago when Hamid Karzai was in power. Later on, he was given this post on permanent basis as well as the rank of Brig Gen by Karzai as a reward for the exploits of his private Militia against the Taliban. Like many others, this illiterate man who had spent his time in refugee camps before and during the Taliban rule, and he also worked in a shop, is now a Lt Gen. His fortunes soared after 9/11, when he offered his Militia to the Americans to fight the Taliban. His Militia took active part in 2010 operation in Kandahar. Most of his Militia men are trained from American private companies such as DynCorp and Black water. They received training from the American funded Black Water Centre established in Kandahar. He is infamous for mercilessly torturing Taliban captives and for carrying out extra judicial killings.

He is also a blue eyed boy of the US military and like Rashid Dostum maintains a private Militia. Like late Wali Muhammad Karzai, foster brother of Hamid Karzai, who was supervising drug trade of Afghanistan from Kandahar, Razaq has taken over the drug business. From Spin Boldak route alone, 40 maunds of opium is smuggled under his supervision every month. Once inside Baluchistan, his handlers transport the opium in jeeps and major part of it is handed over to Iranian Baloch.

Birdseye view of Pak-Afghan Turbulent Relationship

Despite being a landlocked country and mainly dependent upon Pakistan for its imports and exports, Afghanistan has all along remained an unfriendly country. Pakistan came closer to Afghanistan when it decided to support the Afghan Mujahideen against the occupying Soviet forces in 1980 and hosted well over 3 million Afghan refugees. Gen Ziaul Haq pursued an upright and correct Afghan policy and was instrumental in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans. His sudden death under mysterious circumstances in August 1988 and the US deciding to abandon Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1989 led to power tussle between the seven Mujahedeen groups. Civil war erupted between the groups under Gulbadin Hikmatyar and Northern Alliance (NA) under Ahmad Shah Masood, which raged till the eruption of Taliban movement from Kandahar in 1994. They captured power in October 1996 and pushed NA to Panjsher Valley comprising about 9% of Afghan territory. NA patronized by Iran, India, US and the West became hostile towards Pakistan since it considered Pakistan responsible for its woes.

Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoyed best of relations during the five years rule of Taliban from 1996 till their ouster in November 2001 by the US led western forces and NA. During the Taliban rule, Pakistan’s western border had become safe in true sense. Poppy growing, arms trade and war lordism had ceased in Afghanistan. Both had pledged to provide strategic depth to each other in times of crisis. However, Pakistan was gifted the cancers of drugs and Kalashnikovs as well as sectarianism during and after the Afghan Jihad. The successive civilian governments in the 1990s did nothing to cure the perforating cancers which had militarized the society or to return the Afghan refugees.

Pakistan’s decision to ditch Taliban regime at the behest of Washington in September 2001 and to provide air bases from where the US bombers destroyed Afghanistan, and then providing logistics supply routes to NATO forces from Karachi seaport to Afghanistan via Chaman and Torkham shocked the Taliban. Having experienced the golden era of Gen Zia, they could never imagine that another Pakistani General would treacherously stab them in the back to win the affections of a super power. Pakistan also helped in netting runaway Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders and handing them over to CIA for onwards transfer to Guantanamo Bay Prison. Since then Pakistan’s Afghan policy has remained in confusion and in doldrums thereby accumulating distrust and widening the distance between the two countries.

The hey days of brotherly and blood relations have now become history and today Afghan government as well as the people of Afghanistan have become averse to Pakistan. Indian psychological operators have penetrated in each and every government department and have succeeded in influencing the minds of Afghans. Their minds have been systematically brainwashed to hate Pakistan and to see India as their friend and benefactor. Afghan society had been Sovietized by the former USSR during its 10-year occupation and now India has Indianized Afghan society.

Afghans have been told repeatedly that Pakistan is a betrayer; it had first betrayed NA and then the Taliban; and that it’s an enemy of Afghanistan and wants to make it its colony.  In actuality, Afghanistan for all practical purposes has become a colony of India. The two have become strategic partners, and RAW-NDS backed by USA are working against Pakistan in unison since 2002. In fact, RAAM and NDS were established by RAW. All what Pakistan had done for Afghanistan in its testing times has been washed down the drain.

While NA has not forgotten and forgiven Pakistan for its support to the Taliban, The Taliban have out of expediency overlooked Pakistan’s betrayal and has thus far not picked up arms against Pak security forces or indulged in acts of terrorism in Pakistan. They have confined their resistance war against the occupying forces and the collaborators inside Afghanistan and have let the TTP to bleed Pakistan. The US, NATO, Afghan government and India have been persistently trying to create a wedge between the Taliban and Pakistan security forces and pitch them against each other.

The US to some extent achieved this objective after it forced Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan in June 2014 and flush out Pak-friendly so-called Haqqani network (HN), then playing up death of Mulla Omar in July 2015 to scuttle Afghan peace talks, then pressing it to force the Taliban to lay down arms and come to negotiating table, or else fight the HN and so-called Quetta Shura, and then droning Mulla Mansour on May 22, 2016 when he was about to join peace process, and then abruptly discarding Pakistan from Quadrilateral peace talks forum and adding India.

While Pakistan exerted pressure on the Taliban to agree to talks, it couldn’t win any concession for them from Washington and Kabul. Pakistan’s efforts to convince the Taliban to accept the US dictated peace agreement and the US tailored constitution has not been well received among the rank and file of Taliban. They view it as another betrayal to please USA and to earn its kudos. For them, it amounts to disregarding their huge sacrifices and abandoning liberation movement at a time when victory is in sight, merely to share power as a junior partner.

This is naturally unacceptable to the Taliban under Haibatullah, since they have sacrificed their three generations and have gained control over 60% of Afghan territory and restricted the writ of inept, corrupt and unpopular ruling regime of Ashraf Ghani to Kabul only, entirely dependent upon $8.1 billion annual foreign aid.

While Trump has acknowledged that terrorism “cannot be defeated with any sort of finality”, he has given his nod to induct of 3-5000 additional troops to beef up US 8400 troops in Afghanistan in coming June. It amounts to reinforcing the failure. As had happened after the two troop surges in 2009, casualty rate of occupiers and collaborators as well as of civilians will jump up. Overall security situation will worsen and may trigger another round of civil war as had happened in 1991.

The situation is getting ripe for such a gory scenario in the wake of enhanced economic stakes of China and its concerns about ETIM; Russia’s deepening interest in the affairs of Afghanistan in order to ward off the emerging threat of Daesh, and to gain access to warm waters; Iran wanting to retain and possibly expand its sphere of influence in Western and Central Afghanistan; Uzbekistan concerns about IMU; landlocked Central Asian States quest to join CPEC and have peaceful Afghanistan; Qatar desiring to retain its diplomatic clout over Taliban owing to their political office in Doha; and USA and India having no intention to abandon Afghanistan.

As can be seen, there are too many external players having their fingers in the pie of Afghanistan. Pakistan has suffered the most because of continuous instability in Afghanistan since 1978 and none can match its sacrifices. It shares 60% of border with Afghanistan. And yet Pakistan is the only country which is being repeatedly pressed to stay out of Afghanistan. On one hand it is coerced to make the Taliban agree to talk, and in the same breath it is told to sever ties with them.

Sadly, our leaders with feet of clay and devoid of clear cut Afghan policy, have been ceding to wrongful demands of USA and its puppet regime in Kabul, well knowing that Afghan soil has been and still is in use for cross border terrorism to destabilize Pakistan. They obsequiously sing the tutored song that Afghan peace process should be Afghan owned and Afghan led, and it will only assist the peace process. How can this formula work when the biggest stakeholders Taliban are kept out of the loop. Russia has now taken the initiative and demanded their inclusion in future peace talks. But why we are shy of taking them on board when all other stakeholders are secretly in contact with them?

Ground Realities

  1. The string-puppet regime in Kabul is wholly sold to USA and India and so is NDS to CIA and RAW.
  2. Whatever actions taken by Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah or NDS are dictated by USA and India. Friday attacks were directed by India and had the approval of USA.
  3. Song of cross border terrorism by Pakistan sung by Karzai regime and now by Ghani regime was composed by India; it’s the same song which India sings with regard to IOK.
  4. By virtue of heavy presence and influence of India in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s western border have become insecure and cannot be termed as friendly or neutral.
  5. Pakistan is faced with a twin threat both from eastern and western borders.
  6. This threat will remain viable as long as Northern Alliance remain in power and the US and India are present in Afghanistan.
  7. India will keep using Afghanistan as a launching pad for cross border terrorism as long as USA stays there.
  8. Afghan unity government installed by USA is unnatural, highly unpopular, bunch of collaborators and illegal, and has no right to decide the future course of Afghanistan and to oppress the great majority of Afghan Pashtuns and keep them out of power.

Recommendations

  1. Pakistan will have to reconfigure its force goals and deploy its troops and radars to grapple with the twin threat.
  2. It has become all the more essential to effectively seal the western border through fencing, towers/pickets and floodlights at the earliest.
  3. Population census of all border villages must be completed expeditiously and saboteurs/drug pushers taken to task.
  4. All the 288 crossing points including the main points of Angoor Adda, Torkham, Chaman and Spin Boldak that are in use of terrorists, saboteurs and smugglers need to be fully guarded.
  5. The two main crossing points of Chaman and Torkham should be kept closed for next three months if not more, irrespective of hue and cry made by vested groups and USA whose supply routes for increased numbers of troops would also get affected. This time we must remain firm and treat Afghanistan as India treats Nepal or Bangladesh.
  6. Pakistan should recall its ambassador in Kabul and give a marching order to Afghan ambassador in Islamabad.
  7. No further contact should be made with illegal unity regime in Kabul.
  8. Return of Afghan refugees must be accelerated.
  9. Operation Raddul Fasaad should intensify its combing operations to nab handlers, facilitators, financiers and to demolish sleeping cells in all urban centres.
  10. Joint Intelligence Directorate must become fully operational and stretch its tentacles to the eastern, western and southern vulnerable border belts.
  11. Armed drones should be used to target hideouts of Fazlullah and Khalid Khurasani.
  12. A case should be taken up in the UN about the aggression of Afghan forces in Chaman and Torkham and told that it was a combined Indo-Afghan attack.
  13. India should be warned that all attacks and terror attacks emanating from Afghanistan are wholly Indian sponsored and it should refrain from it or else be prepared for the consequences.
  14. Pakistan should stop relying on USA and hoping that it will rein in Kabul or New Delhi since it is the chief master mind behind the Pakistan specific covert war.
  15. Instead, Pakistan should now rely more on China and Russia and with the help of the two, involve SCO and possibly Iran and Turkey in Afghan peace process and should boldly propose Taliban as stakeholders.
  16. The emerging alliance should exert pressure on USA to quit Afghanistan.
  17. Pakistan must immediately revise its foreign and defence policies related to Afghanistan, which are entirely based on one-sided policy of appeasement and make it more aggressive and dynamic.The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence and security analyst, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. Takes part in TV talk shows, delivers talks and take part in seminars. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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Rejoinder to Dr. Subhash Kapila by Brig,(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Rejoinder to Dr. Subhash Kapila

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

Dr. Subhash Kapila has written an article in Eurasia Review the theme of which is,Afghanistan cannot be abandoned to China-Pakistan-Russia Troika. A highly melancholic and distressful picture has been painted by the writer in a bid to remind Donald Trump Administration that Afghanistan is slipping out of the hands of the US and unless urgent and immediate measures are taken to forestall the impending strategic loss, Afghanistan would be lost for good which will have grave consequences for the sole super power. A persuasive wake-up call has been given to inviting Trump to act before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

Subhash malevolently suggests that China-Pakistan axis now complemented by Russia will overturn the stability of the region. He has rung alarm bells that amidst the din of US Presidential election, Afghanistan has seemingly disappeared from the radar screen of USA and the Troika has fully exploited the vacuum to exploit it to its own advantage and to the disadvantage of Washington.

 

 

 

He sprinkles salt on the emotive feelings of USA by lamenting that the US huge investment and loss of lives of thousands of American soldiers have all gone waste owing to double dealing of Pakistan which the US has been claiming to be its strategic ally. He warned the new US policy makers that the Troika is fully poised to seize the strategic turf of Afghanistan and thus deprive the USA of its influence in Central Asia and Southwest Asia.

One may ask Subhash as to why no concern was shown by him or any Indian writer when the Troika of USA-India-Afghanistan assisted by UK and Israel was formed in 2002 to target Pakistan. The Troika that has caused excessive pain and anguish to Pakistan and its people is still active. All these years, Pakistan was maliciously maligned, ridiculed and discredited and mercilessly bled without any remorse. The objective of the Troika and its supporters was to create chaos and destabilize the whole region which was peaceful till 9/11.

India was in the lead to destabilize, de-Islamize, denuclearize and fragment Pakistan.

The US installed puppet regimes of Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani wholly under the perverse influence of India played a lead role in bleeding Pakistan by allowing so many hostile agencies to use Afghan soil for the accomplishment of their ominous designs.

The vilest sin of the so-called allies of Pakistan was its pretension of friendship and continuously stabbing Pakistan in the guise of friends. Worst was that Pakistan was distrusted and asked to do more against the terrorists funded, trained and equipped by the Troika and was humiliated by saying that it was either incompetent or an accomplice.

Driven by the desire to become the unchallenged policeman of the region and a bulwark against China, India assisted by its strategic allies has been constantly weaving webs of intrigue and subversion and striving hard to encircle and isolate Pakistan.

Proxy wars were ignited in FATA, Baluchistan, and Karachi to politically destabilize Pakistan, weaken its economy and pin down a sizeable size of Army within the three conflict zones so as to create conducive conditions for launching India’s much trumped up Cold Start Doctrine and destroy Pakistan’s armed forces.

India’s national security adviser has admitted that Pakistan has been subjected to his defensive-offensive doctrine to dislocate it through covert war. India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh has vowed to break Pakistan into ten pieces. Modi has openly admitted that he has established direct links with anti-Pakistan elements in Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir. He confessed India’s central role in creating Bangladesh in 1971 and has often stated that pain will be caused to Pakistan. This is done by way of acts of terror against innocent civilians including school children, resorting to unprovoked firing across the LoC in Kashmir, and resorting to water terrorism. Pakistan has been repeatedly warned to lay its hands off Kashmir or else lose Baluchistan.

Pakistan has miraculously survived the onslaughts of the Troika and has stunned the world by controlling foreign supported terrorism after recapturing 19 administrative units from the TTP and its allied groups and up sticking all the bases in the northwest, breaking the back of separatist movement in Baluchistan and restoring order in lawless Karachi by dismantling the militant infrastructure of MQM and banned groups. Army, Rangers and Frontier Corps assisted by air force have achieved this miracle of re-establishing writ of the State in all parts of the country. Eighty-five of terrorism has been controlled.

Random terror attacks are now wholly planned and executed from Kunar and Nangarhar in Afghanistan under the patronage of RAW ad NDS and supervised by CIA.

Consequent to the new wave of terrorism last month, Operation Rad-e-Fasaad has been launched as a follow-up of Operation Zarb-e-Azb to net facilitators, handlers, and financiers of terrorists and to demolish sleeping cells in urban centres. The scope of this operation has been extended to all parts of the country, and all the three services are taking part in it to cleanse Pakistan from the presence of paid mercenaries and fifth columnists.

Implementation of 20 points of National Action Plan is being religiously expedited to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. Afghan refugees are being returned and management of western border radically improved to prevent infiltration of terrorists.

Terrorism can however not be rooted out unless root causes that heighten extremism are addressed, and the bases in Afghanistan, as well as the patrons stoking terrorism, remain operative.

Pakistan has overcome energy crisis, considerably improved its macroeconomics and its stature in the world. Operationalization of CPEC, hosting of ECO meeting and holding of PSL cricket finals in Lahore have broken the myth of isolation.

Pakistan has made its defense impregnable by raising the level of minimum nuclear deterrence to full spectrum deterrence. Robust conventional and nuclear capability together with stable political and economic conditions have thwarted India’s desire to attack Pakistan overtly.

India and its strategic allies have been stopped in their tracks and left with no choice but to contend with covert war supplemented with propaganda war and coercive tactics to give vent to their pent-up anger.

India which is the chief villain of peace is deeply perturbed and is shedding tears over its failures and loss of billions spent on proxies to detach FATA, Baluchistan, Karachi and AJK from Pakistan, or to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program. The rapid progress made by CPEC has made the deadly Troika more rancorous.

Finding that its nasty game plan has run into snags with little chance of recovery, and above all Afghanistan is slithering away because of a resurgence of Taliban and ostensible insouciance of Washington, India is once again making efforts to provoke Trump and ruffle his feathers, the way it had efficaciously prevailed upon George Bush and Obama. It is now working on a new theme of demonizing so-called Troika of China-Russia-Pakistan, which is so far not in existence and is an illusion. Subhash is among the propaganda brigade selling this illusory theme and is suggesting that the so-called Troika have hegemonic and military designs against Afghanistan.

CPEC is an economic venture aimed at promoting peace and friend socalled Troika have hegemony in the region as a whole. It promises goodwill, harmony, and mutual prosperity through connectivity. Both China and Pakistan shun war mongering, proxy wars and psy operations to disparage others. The duo is bereft of colonial or quasi-colonial designs against any country. Since its memo is altogether different from the imperialist agenda of Indo-US-Israel, it threatens to unravel the global ambitions of the trio.

Whereas Afghanistan has not accepted the British demarcated Durand Line as a border with Pakistan and has been supportive of Pakhtunistan stunt, Pakistan has no disputes with Afghanistan and has always treated it as a brotherly Muslim neighbor.

Repeated invitations to India and Afghanistan to join CPEC and reap its benefits have been turned down. Both are complacent that CPEC will be a non-starter without an inclusion of peaceful Afghanistan, ignoring the fact that they are getting isolated. Moreover, a new route from Kazakhstan via Wakhan corridor is in pipeline which will bypass Afghanistan.

While China and Pakistan have jointly embarked upon the journey of peace and friendship and are attracting many countries, Russia is still hesitant and has so far not formally joined the bandwagon of CPEC which has great potential and has grandiose plans to link South Asia with Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa and eventually Europe.

Russia’s hesitation is owing to the fear of losing defence and economic markets in India. However, seeing the bright scope of CPEC and motivated by its age-old quest for warm waters, Russia will sooner than later abandon India because of Indo-US military agreements and gravitate towards CPEC. Recent developments have given a loud message to India that Russia is tilting towards Pakistan.

One of the reasons of Russia’s tilt is worsening security situation in Afghanistan which has turned into a big mess and is beyond the capacity of USA and Ghani regime to sort it out. Growing presence of Daesh in Afghanistan has alarmed Moscow since the declared objective of this branch of Daesh is to re-establish ancient Khorasan, which comprised of parts of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. The runaway TTP leaders Fazlullah, Khalid Omar and several others have tagged their names with Khorasani and have made Kunar-Nuristan as the base camp for the making of Khorasan.

Russia knows that CIA, Mossad, and RAW are secretly aligned with Daesh and are killing two birds with one stone. The threat of Daesh has impelled Russia to evince greater interest in Afghan affairs and there are reports that it is supplying arms to the Taliban to enable them to tackle the new threat. Some are saying, that Moscow might intervene in Afghanistan the way it had intervened in Syria on the pretext of grappling with Daesh.

If so, it might trigger a proxy war between the two big powers which will prolong the agony of people of Afghanistan as well as of Pakistan because of the spillover effect. This is exactly what India wants so as to retain its nuisance value in Afghanistan.

Will Trump get enticed and blindly jump into the same inferno from which Obama had extracted 1, 30,000 troops in December 2014 with great difficulty, and lose whatever prestige the US is left with by reinforcing failure?

Or else, he will stick to his policy of curtailing defence expenditure and pull out the 12000 strong Resolute Support Group and stop paying $8.1 billion annually to the corrupt regime in Kabul and inept Afghan security forces?

Or he takes a saner decision by making USA part of Russia-China-Pakistan grouping to arrive at a political settlement in Afghanistan and also opt to join CPEC and improve the economy of USA?

Making a realistic appraisal of the ground situation, the last option seems more viable and profitable for the USA, while the second option is dicey, and the first option will spell disaster.

The writer is retired Brig, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre and Member Executive Council Ex-Servicemen Society. Takes part in TV programs. asifharoonraja@gmail.com       

 

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